American wildcard Sofia Kenin gears up for a showdown with Maria Sharapova, who isn't happy with her new look. Svetlana Kuznetsova nurses an injury and Magdalena Rybarikova pulls off the 'Pliskova Slam' on Day 3 of the US Open.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
August 31, 2017

NEW YORK, NY, USA - After a waterlogged Day 2 forced a swatch of matches to be postponed, Day 3 saw 41 matches played at the US Open. The final match of the evening between No.5 Caroline Wozniacki and Ekaterina Makarova offered the biggest surprise of the day, as Makarova snapped her 0-7 record against Wozniacki to beat the Dane 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1 to advance to the third round. Wozniacki had an outside chance of ascending to No.1 after the US Open but the loss means the Battle for No.1 will focus on six players - Garbiñe Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Venus Williams, Simona Halep and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The Insider Team breaks down the all the action on Day 3, which included a comeback win by Maria Sharapova, on the WTA Insider Podcast.

Listen below:

Sofia Kenin readies to face off against her idol. 

The reward for 18-year-old American Sofia Kenin after making her first third round at a Slam? A second trip to Tiffany's and Maria Sharapova. The Moscow-born Kenin already earned a trip to the famed American jewelry store after her first-round win when her father promised her a Tiffany's trip if she won. Now, after saving two match points to beat Sachia Vickery 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(0), she's going back for more. 

"Me and my dad made a deal that if I win this match I could get something from Tiffany's up to $500."
Sofia Kenin

"Me and my dad made a deal that if I win this match I could get something from Tiffany's up to $500," Kenin said with a laugh.

Currently ranked WTA World No.139, Kenin will play Sharapova on Friday, after the Russian wildcard rallied from a set down to beat Timea Babos in three sets. Kenin's family moved from Russia to the United States when she was young, and she was asked whether that Russian connection drove her idol worship.

"If she says something in Russian I would obviously know what she's saying," she said, laughing. "I think we both have a similar fight and drive. We both try and dictate the points."

"It's really exciting to be in this position and to be playing the person who I've always looked up to all my life."
Sofia Kenin

"It's incredible to play here in the third round, that's huge. To play against a great player like Maria, it's going to be great. I'm going to try to obviously do well. It's really exciting to be in this position and to be playing the person who I've always looked up to all my life."

"I see her as a great player. I'm really happy that's she's back and she's playing some of her best tennis. What I think about her is I have a lot of respect for her."

"It's going to be the biggest audience of my life. I'm really excited. Words can't even describe how excited I am. I'm just going to prepare how I've always prepared. Obviously, it's a bigger match and everything, but I'll try not to get overexcited. I'm going to try to do well." 

Maria Sharapova tempering expectations.

With her win over Timea Babos, Sharapova notched back-to-back wins for the first time since her comeback tournament at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Her level against Babos did not match the performance she put in against Simona Halep in her opening match but the stat-sheet remained strong. Sharapova fired 12 aces and finished with 39 winners to 36 unforced errors in a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 win. 

With the exits of No.2 Halep and No.7 Konta from the bottom quarter of the draw, one of the following women will be a US Open semifinalist: Sharapova, Kenin, Donna Vekic, Anastasija Sevastova, Sloane Stephens, Ashleigh Barty, Julia Goerges or Aleksandra Krunic. Only two of those players, Sevastova and Goerges, are seeds. It's a quarter of opportunity and many pundits are looking towards Sharapova to get through.

"Look, I certainly have expectations just because I know I've been in these stages before and I've been able to execute," Sharapova said. "There's a certain level of I know I can do this, I've done it before. I want to have that feeling again.

"But there's also the realistic understanding of, Okay, you haven't been in this situation for a while. It's going to take a little time."

"It's one of those matches you kind of want to forget about."
Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard continues to struggle with her confidence.

Now ranked No.76, Bouchard was at a loss to explain her 7-6(2), 6-1 defeat to No.89 Evgeniya Rodina in the first round. "I don't really know, to be honest," she said. "It's one of those matches you kind of want to forget about. I know obviously the unforced error count was a bit too high, especially at the end of that first set. I just didn't really know what to do out there."

The loss drops Bouchard to 11-17 in tour-level matches this season. "My confidence is not high at all at this point in time, and I definitely had question marks about what my level would be like coming out today."

Bouchard confirmed she is still scheduled to play the Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City, which begins on September 9th.

Sveta survives, but scathed

Svetlana Kuznetsova saved two match points to get past Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova, winning 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) to advance to the second round. That's the good news. The bad news is the 2004 champion may have picked up a left wrist injury. She called for the trainer early in the first set and walked into her press conference with an ice pack.

"For me it's really unusual to call physio," Kuznetsova said afterwards. "I never call it. So it was a bit weird.

"It was really painful to play backhands. The physio came and taped my wrist and I took a pill, like ibuprofen or whatever it was, whatever the doctor gave me.

"In a few games, the pain went away because I guess the pill started to work. So far I think it's a little bit inflamed. I just put ice. I will evaluate it later."

Kuznetsova will not have much time to recover. She plays Kurumi Nara on Thursday.

The 'Pliskova Slam'.

Or at least, that's what we're calling it. Magdalena Rybarikova ousted No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the second round of Wimbledon last month and Kristyna Pliskova suffered the same fate on Wednesday. Rybarikova, playing as a seed at a Slam for the first time in over three years, beat Kristyna 7-6(4), 7-6(3), again in the second round.

Sharapova would rather go sleeveless.

In fashion news, Sharapova took to the court in a soft pink version of the "little black dress" she wore on Monday night, but there were two conspicuous accessories: arm sleeves. Much to her chagrin, Sharapova had to go with function over fashion this time around.

"Not crazy about that look. Not at all. Not voluntarily doing it."
Maria Sharapova

"I'm not into the sleeves at all," she said with a laugh. "It's just to keep my arms warm. But, yeah, not crazy about that look. Not at all. Not voluntarily doing it."

Stat of the Day

Kristina Mladenovic was 31-11 (74% winning percentage) from the start of the season through the French Open, where she made the quarterfinals. After taking a straight set loss to Monica Niculescu in the first round, Mladenovic is 7-9 (47% winning percentage) since Roland Garros. 

Quote of the Day: Take it away Petra...

"I think that might be a problem!"

- Petra Kvitova after her press conference moderator asked for questions in German.